Joseph Beuys: mapping the legacy
Joseph Beuys was arguably the most important figure in postwar European art. Seemingly tireless, he produced a torrent of objects, performances and pronouncements, and trained a generation of German artists. Courting controversy, he polarized the critics and claimed to have fundamentally altered the role of the artist in society. Looking both to the past and the future, his "expanded concept of art" challenged the market system with a vision integrating concepts from ecology, religion and political economy. The images he created still haunt, astonish and provoke. But what, at the end of the century, are we actually able to say about the impact of his innovations and ideas? How, if at all, is art different after Beuys? What, if anything, is his transatlantic relevance? These are the questions explored in this book by a distinguished group of artists, critics and art historians gathered at the Ringling Museum's international symposium Joseph Beuys at the End of the Twentieth Century: Mapping the Legacy. This needed evaluation has been long Overdue and in some ways has perhaps been hindered by the artist's public persona and Charismatic after-image. Because he so polarized critical opinion his initial reception tended to get stuck in an all-or-nothing approach: the man and his work were together either lionized or denigrated. The papers presented here examine the artist's various productive modes by means of different critical tools and criteria. The result is a much needed reader that will help both students and art professionals come to terms with this controversial and enormously influential artist.
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